19 June 2018
Problem: Overpopulation and Ununified People
A major problem plaguing our world since ancient times and a newer problem that has arisen in the past couple centuries both share a simple solution. First, a major problem most people do little to attempt to solve is the constant conflict that humans seem to crave at this point. Second is the newer problem of overpopulation not only damaging the environment but also ourselves. Both problems come from primal human instincts of survival, but have been taken too far for far too long. This essay is to discuss the simple solution to both of these problems by going where no man has gone before and risking lives to create a peaceful existence for the generations to come.
Since ancient times, people have waged war with their neighbor to no end to protect their land, teach others the righteousness of their religion, or to conquer in the name of expansion. Humankind has never seen an end to war and every king, emperor, president, and every other kind of leader either prepares their defense for war or seeks it out themselves. It is practically impossible to find a period of time in which all the people on Earth could live in peace with one another. Some form of hate or fear has dwelt within the masses, preventing every human from getting along and cooperating with one another. This prevents unity and cooperation on a mass scale and has even gotten so bad that some Americans cannot bare to be in the room with another American whose beliefs differ ever so slightly.
The problem of overpopulation has been a large fear amongst people for a while now. Most of this fear of overpopulation has been projected into fictional media depicting dystopian worlds or over packed cities across the world with a very high poverty rate. Although the first depiction is mostly used for fun science fiction, the second depiction in increasingly more likely. According to Parfit, we can conclude that a higher population will lead to a lower rate of happiness in the population. Although it is an over simplification, it would be correct to say that there is a negative correlation between population of humans and rate of happiness. That statement could also mean that there is a positive correlation between population and poverty rate. Overpopulation is a huge problem with little plausible solutions.
To solve these problems, humans would have to continue the old practice that has been allowing humans to manage their population growth with decreasing space. Humans need to continue expanding their territory. The Earth may have reached its estimated capacity, but there are plenty of stars in the sky ripe for the taking. Humans first need to expand their territory to Mars, the best choice for habitability with current technology. Zubrin goes over the approximate time and technology required to colonize Mars and expand human territory. The process could take several decades in total meaning modern day people may never experience what colonized Mars is like, but this is not a plan to save an individual or the here and now humans, but rather to give the future generations a more prosperous life filled with more “happiness” than all previous generations.
Humans can then proceed to address the other problem of ununified Earth once Mars has been colonized. The only thing that can unify a whole country under a single banner is war with another country. Similarly, the only thing that could unite an entire world is to be at war with another world. If the colonizers of Mars create war with Earth, which is very likely to happen, all the world’s major countries, who will most likely all have a hand in the colonization, will have to unite to fight against their common enemy. With the sheer distance between both planets and the technology not yet allowing quick travel, it would be a painfully long war involving the entire human population. According to Bauer, people will behave more cooperatively once confronted with war. If this principle is applied to this large of a scale, then we could finally forge a unified Earth.
The saddening aspect of all of this is the possibility of getting all of this done. Without a more active war, the production of newer and better technologies slows down, making it more difficult to make more efficient methods of traveling to and colonizing Mars which would draw out the process significantly. Also, in the grand scheme of things, this is but a temporary fix. Eventually, if the human race continues to grow at a constant rate, both planets would once again become overpopulated and face the same problem we are now facing. Of course, because that day could be expected to expected to be very far in the future, technology would most likely improve to a point in which humans can continue to expand their territory and reach out to other solar systems, forever repeating the cycle of exploration and colonization.
Another problem with this solution is peace times. The war between worlds would have to eventually end at some point with a victor and a loser or a treaty. After some generation pass, the human race would once again return to its ununified state, seeking differences wherever they can be found. It is difficult to counteract the human nature of classification and differentiation with only hopes that humans will educate themselves to become more open minded in the face of other humans presenting differences in race, creed, religion, and whatever other affiliations there might be.
Though the solution to the problems of overpopulation and Earth’s ununified state is temporary, most solutions to most problems are. Humans solve problems in hopes that future humans will learn and find new ways to solve reoccurring problems. No solution is perfect or right or wrong. The answers we give are a means of keeping ourselves together a little longer. That is all we can do. If we need war to create generations of peace and leaps of technological advancements, then so be it. If we need to continuously expand our horizons just to accommodate the race with enough resources, then so be it. Problems will always arise with a different answer given each time we face them. We hope the next generation will give a better answer.
Bauer, Michal, et al. “Can war foster cooperation?.” Journal of Economic Perspectives 30.3 (2016): 249-74.
Luce, Stephen B. “The benefits of war.” The North American Review 153.421 (1891): 672-683.
Parfit, Derek. “Overpopulation and the Quality of Life.” The Repugnant Conclusion. Springer, Dordrecht, 2004. 7-22.
SCHULZE-MAKUCH, D. I. R. K., and P. Davies. “Destination Mars: Colonization via Initial One-Way Missions.” Journal of the British Interplanetary Society 66 (2013): 11-14.
Zubrin, Robert. “The economic viability of Mars colonization.” Journal of the British Interplanetary Society 48.10 (1995): 407-414.